Pismo Beach City Council repeals amendments on Price Canyon

dsneed@thetribunenews.comSeptember 4, 2013 

This view looking south shows a portion of Price Canyon in 2011 where 961 acres could eventually be annexed into Pismo Beach and developed.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

The Pismo Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to rescind general plan amendments that set the stage for development in the Price Canyon area.

The vote means that the Spanish Springs project, as proposed, could not move forward for at least a year, said Jon Biggs, city community development director. It also means that no referendum election will be held.

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Waage said the council voted to rescind because both the Spanish Springs developer and project opponents did not want the current plan to go forward. A delay also gives Spanish Springs developers time to work with developers of another Price Canyon project, Pismo Ranch.

“Whatever happens there, we want to make sure we do it right,” Waage said. “The two property owners working together will make a better project.”

Rescinding the general plan amendments means that the Spanish Springs developers cannot bring back the same project for a year, Biggs said. They could, however, bring forward plans for a modified project at any point.

The Spanish Springs project would include 416 single-family homes, 73 apartments or condominiums and 120 senior units along with a 150-room hotel and 10,000-square-foot conference center. It would cover 961 acres and include parks, a nine-hole golf course, a wastewater treatment facility and trails.

The proposal has garnered significant opposition, due to water, traffic and growth concerns. Activists gathered more than enough signatures to force the council to either hold a referendum or rescind its June general plan modifications.

Marcia Guthrie, a city resident who opposes the project and helped gather signatures, said she would have liked the issue to have gone before voters. She thinks the project would have been easily defeated and the vote would have been a “wake-up call” for the council.

“I have no doubt that they plan to bring this development back,” Guthrie said. “It’s a lack of respect for the citizens who signed the referendum. We’ll do it again, if necessary.”

Before Tuesday’s meeting, Spanish Springs landowner Stephen Hester sent a letter to the council urging it to forgo the referendum and repeal its June general plan resolution. He cited several problems with the general plan changes that would make an election “highly inefficient and legally problematic,” particularly when it came to water resources.

Representatives of the other proposed Price Canyon development, Pismo Ranch, also said they were not opposed to rescinding the current plans, saying it would give them more time to finish planning their own project. It is a smaller project calling for more than 300 homes.

Rescinding the current plans also saved the city the expense of holding a referendum election. In that election, city voters would have decided the future of the Spanish Springs project.

The cost of a standalone special election could have been as high as $75,000. But holding the election next year during already scheduled state general or primary elections would significantly reduce costs.

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